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Drawing Reference Deep Dive No. 1

This week, my ‘weekly campaign’ (see more here about artists doing things in campaigns ) was to take only one reference and pick it apart to see what you could learn from it. It makes it easier because I break it down into studying smaller parts of it.

I think it is a part of slowing down to increase my attention span. Social media is harmful in that way. I’m still glad I’m off. I’m listening to podcasts and music while I draw, but the days of mindlessly scrolling feeds are gone. I hope.

In the images, I want to analyze what the underlying volumes are, what the details are, how the cloth folds and why, the pose and what it says about what the character is thinking, what happened before and after, and what has to be drawn accurately and what benefits from a looser approach, the two-dimensional shapes it forms, what to learn and remember about the pose in general for future drawings, things I could change.

Et cetera.

As I wrote here, it is best to do things that serve multiple purposes. In this case, it lets me draw, and I enjoy it, and it lets me understand how to draw it from memory and trains my ability to visualize. It allows me to practice drawing with dip pen and ink, makes me better at designing a drawing on the fly, fills my memory bank, and results in slides I can share on Instagram and as one long image on Pinterest!

Because Pinterest! I get all my newsletter subscribers from there now! I didn’t know!

Pinterest is also really cool in that it lets you automate posting. It’s almost no work from my side. The vertical image in this article will be shared automatically on Pinterest.

I mean, it is still work, but it is not work-work. Writing one article a week is nothing like having to post on Instagram every day. Think about it: an image or video or caption every day. That’s around thirty posts a month. If you use that for a newsletter, it spreads out over thirty WEEKS! SEVEN months! It’s insane how much work social media platforms are making us do for them.

It takes much less time to do this, which leaves me time to draw! And write.

What works on Pinterest? I’m not sure. I do know people use it to collect ideas for projects, and artists use it to collect references. That’s what I use it for, anyway. So maybe this long image can be reference artists collect.

And maybe more artists will discover drawing from memory is a fundamentally different exercise from drawing from observation and equally valuable, if not even more so.

I can tell you this: it is incredibly fun to be able to draw something from memory. (Hint hint. Not trying to sell you on anything. AT ALL.)

Let me know what you think: would me sharing what I learn after spending time picking apart and analyzing one reference image be useful?

My Favorite Drawing Exercises

If you feel like drawing, then check out my favorite drawing exercises!

Do these exercises

form studies to warm up, slow down, get into the right meditative state, and improve your draftsmanship skills.

Do these form studies

form studies to help you improve creating underdrawings, place things in space, practice doing perspective by sight.

Practice drawing from memory to fill your visual bank, ability to memorize, ability to visualize, ability to draw what you see in your imagination and your ability to see what is wrong with your drawings.

If you find it hard to create or maintain a creative habit, you can find some habit-related tips here.

Check out these pleasing, calm, art-related (mostly) podcasts to listen to while drawing. They have been automatically prepared for you to automatically binge-listen to so that you can start drawing.

Lastly, also make sure you have fun in your sketchbook after the hard practice! Here is one guide that can help you jog your creativity.

creativity exercise

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